Two Thumbs Up For Supreme Court Today!

Score one … no wait, score two … for justice today!  The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on two separate cases this morning that I’ve been watching.


The first is the case brought by District Attorney Cyrus Vance of New York, seeking access to eight years of Donald Trump’s financial and tax records.  This case has been tied up in the courts for years now, often hindered by U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr, who served as Trump’s lapdog and protector.  But today, the Court denied the motion by Trump’s attorneys to keep his tax records hidden in a one-sentence order with no recorded dissents.

The petition for a writ of certiorari is denied.

Music to the ears!  What this means is there are no further appeals and the accounting firm Mazar’s will turn over the subpoenaed tax records to Cyrus Vance’s office within a matter of days.  Last year, the New York Times obtained more than two decades of tax return data of Trump and his companies and published a series of articles about them.  Trump, the articles said, sustained significant losses, owes enormous debts that he is personally obligated to repay, has avoided paying federal income taxes in 11 of the 18 years the Times examined and paid just $750 in both 2016 and 2017.

The scope of Mr. Vance’s inquiry is not known. It arose partly from an investigation by his office into hush-money payments to two women who said they had affairs with Mr. Trump, relationships the president has denied. But court filings by prosecutors suggested that they are also investigating potential crimes like tax and insurance fraud.

Vance responded to the court decision with a three-word tweet: “The work continues.”


The second Supreme Court ruling that gets a thumbs-up is in what should be the next-to-last case challenging the 2020 election results.  This one sought to throw out a portion of the postal votes in the state of Pennsylvania, based on the fact that some were received and accepted in the three-day period after election day.  Never mind that this was Trump’s own fault, for placing Louis DeJoy in the position of Postmaster General with the sole goal of slowing the mail to a snail’s pace so that postal votes would be delayed.  The Court basically told Trump to sit down and shut up, and even Justices Alito, Gorsuch and Thomas acknowledged that the number of ballots received after Election Day would not have been enough to threaten President Biden’s victory margin over Trump.

The next and final case challenging election results will be heard on March 5th, challenging the use of ballot drop boxes in the state of Wisconsin.  I have no idea why these cases have not been dropped, for all claims of widespread voter fraud have been disproven time and time again over the past four months, and there is no case that would have changed the outcome of the election.  It’s a complete waste of both time and money when the Court has more important things to concern itself with.


And in upcoming legislation …

You may remember the Equality Act, a bill that would significantly expand LGBTQ protections.  The bill was passed by the House in 2019, but languished in the Senate where then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused to even bring the bill to the floor.  Last week, Representative David Cicilline of Rhode Island re-introduced the bill, which is expected to pass in the House, but may face an uphill battle in the Senate.

The bill, if passed and signed into law, would expand the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Fair Housing Act to include LGBTQ Americans, prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity for housing, education, employment and in other areas.  A no-brainer, right?  But … well, the congressional republicans claim it will interfere with religious freedom!

None other than Marjorie Taylor Greene, a freshman representative who has already stirred up trouble more than a few times since taking her oath of office last month, opposes the bill calling it “an attack on people of faith.”  BULLSHIT!  If “people of faith” are so bigoted that they would deny equal rights to people in the LGBT community, then I suggest they re-evaluate their ‘faith’.  Greene tweeted earlier today …

“Just to make myself clear, I WILL BE VOTING NO TO THE DISGUSTING, IMMORAL, AND EVIL #EqualityAct!!! It has nothing to do with stopping discrimination against the LGBT community, that could be done easily without this. It has everything to do with attacking God & believers.”

My own representative, Warren Davidson, made the same claim on Twitter just this morning.  Are all republicans homophobes, then?  Are they all bigots?  Perhaps they should have a big “B” tattooed on their foreheads, ala The Scarlet Letter.

If the Senate refuses to pass this one (it will require a 60-vote majority to avoid a filibuster), then I suggest that every single senator who votes against it be shown just what discrimination feels like.  Let them be denied service next time they go to a restaurant.  Let them be shunned in public.  Cross to the other side of the street to avoid them.  Give them just a taste of what it’s like to be discriminated against.  Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

It should be noted that members of Congress represent ALL the people in their district/state, not only straight, white, Christian males!

A Snarky Bit Of This ‘n That

The Supreme Court has been hard at work, trying to wrap up their business before the two-month break coming up.  These days when the Court speaks, it usually raises my hackles, and raised hackles lead to a bit of ranting, ‘cause it isn’t healthy to keep it all bottled up inside, y’know.


I am thoroughly confused about the rationale behind yesterday’s Supreme Court ruling that restricts access to birth control for women.  Within the Affordable Healthcare Act (ACA), there was a mandate which says that insurance plans sponsored by large employers must include preventive care — including all forms of birth control approved by the Food and Drug Administration — at no additional cost.  Trump and his band of merry henchmen came along and decided that any company having a religious objection to birth control, can opt out of the mandate, leaving their female employees a little poorer after paying full price to purchase their own birth control, sometimes thousands of dollars.  For some it is cost-prohibitive.

But what confuses me is that the very people who are against birth control are also viciously against abortion.  This is like … it’s like putting two flavours of ice cream on the table and saying, “You may not have the chocolate.  You also may not have the vanilla.”  If these religious groups do not want women to have abortions, then isn’t the best cure a preventative one?  What the hell do these groups want?

The answer to that question, I think, is simple.  They want women to be forced back into servitude, having a baby every year, not having the opportunities afforded to men, such as furthering their education, finding a satisfying career, or virtually anything else.  They want, it would seem, to control women’s bodies, and in so doing, our minds.

And another thing … the earth is already overpopulated.  In 1800 the world’s population was around 1 billion people. Since then it has increased more than sevenfold to reach over 7.5 billion in 2017 and is forecast to top 10 billion by 2050.  Why in hell would we want to encourage unfettered reproduction???  With medical science now able to keep people alive longer, the birth rate is 3 times higher than the death rate.  Okay, wonderful that you can be cured of many diseases and live to a ripe old age, but somewhere human growth must level off, for the planet cannot support 10 billion people!  Especially since humans seem intent on destroying the planet in every imaginable way!

The Court screwed up on this one, and we women will pay a hefty price for decades!  Thanks, Justices Alito, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, Thomas, and Chief Justice Roberts … thanks for nothing!


In another Supreme Court ruling, the Court contributed to Trump’s re-election campaign by saying that his financial records, including tax returns, could not be given to Congress for review until after the election in November.  It is my opinion that the Court, in so ruling, has increased Trump’s chances at re-election, for there is no doubt in anyone’s mind that there will be damning information found in those financial records that might convince some fence-sitters of his absolute dishonesty.

But, the news wasn’t all bad on this one, for the Court did rule that Trump not only lacks immunity from a state criminal investigation but also enjoys no special, heightened standard of proof.  In a nutshell, New York District Attorney, Cyrus Vance has been given a green light.  Well, actually a yellow light, for Trump can still plead for immunity in a lower court, and this could easily bounce around until after November 3rd.  I found humour in the fact that this was a 7-2 ruling, with both of Trump’s hand-picked Justices, Kavanaugh and Gorsuch, siding with the majority opinion.  Trump, needless to say, was not pleased …

“The Supreme Court sends case back to Lower Court, arguments to continue. This is all a political prosecution. I won the Mueller Witch Hunt, and others, and now I have to keep fighting in a politically corrupt New York. Not fair to this Presidency or Administration!”


Idiots abound these days, don’t they?  Ohio State Representative Nino Vitale seems to have a few damaged brain cells and be following a Trumpian agenda.  Yesterday, when Governor DeWine put into place a mask mandate for certain counties, including my own, where the virus is spiraling out of control, Mr. Vitale seemingly took umbrage and had some advice for his constituents …

“Are you tired of living in a dictatorship yet? This is what happens when people go crazy and get tested. STOP GETTING TESTED! It is giving the government an excuse to claim something is happening that is not happening at the magnitude they say it is happening.”

WHOA!  And this dude was elected into the state legislature???   As I said, idiots abound.toon

Snarky Snippets Is Baaaaack …

A few things are on my radar this afternoon … several actually, but three that are jumping up and down screaming, “Pick me!  Pick ME!”  And so, the choice has been made for me, it would seem.


Who could’a seen it coming?

This in this morning’s The Guardian

Despite Donald Trump’s claims that the spread of coronavirus is dropping around the US, new infection hotspots are cropping up across Republican heartlands, including in Texas and Alabama. Many of the new hotspots are in states where governors refused to instruct residents to stay at home, or are following Trump’s advice to relax lockdown restrictions.

These figures could be seen as the realisation of a warning from Dr Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the president’s long-suffering right-hand man on coronavirus, on Tuesday.

In his latest contradiction of the president, Fauci warned the virus would not go away on its own, and that reopening the country too quickly could result in a surge in “little spikes that might turn into outbreaks”.

I wonder how those gun-totin’ fools who stormed statehouses brandishing their big guns and displaying their Nazi insignia feel now that they’ve gotten their way?  I wonder how many more have to die because of fools like them?


Will justice prevail?

Yesterday, the Supreme Court heard arguments from Trump’s lawyers concerning the release of his tax and other financial records, as subpoenaed by Congress.  Trump’s lawyers contend that he should not be so constrained by Congress and cannot be prosecuted while in office.  However, at least four on the Supreme Court feel differently …

  • “There is a long, long history of Congress seeking records and getting them” from occupants of the Oval Office. – Justice Sonia Sotomayor
  • Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Steven Breyer brought up requests for documents during the Watergate and Whitewater scandals, which occurred under Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton and were decided unanimously against the president concerned.
  • Elena Kagan told Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow a “fundamental precept of our constitutional order is that the president is not above the law”.

The case in a nutshell:

Every president since Nixon, who was elected in 1968, had released tax information. But there is no legal compunction to do so.

Democrats in Congress are attempting to establish whether Trump is breaking ethics laws and constitutional safeguards against profiting from the presidency.

The New York prosecutor Cyrus Vance Jr wants to find out if hush money payments to women who claimed affairs with Trump involved illegal business practices.

Trump is asking the justices to put an end to subpoenas for tax, bank and other financial records which seek information from Deutsche Bank, Capital One and the Mazars USA accounting firm.

Trump’s lawyers, supported by the justice department, contend that he should not be so constrained by Congress and cannot be prosecuted while in office.

Opponents of the president say he is simply not above the law.

Appellate courts in Washington and New York have ruled that the documents should be turned over. Those courts brushed aside the president’s broad arguments, focusing on the fact that the subpoenas were addressed to third parties asking for records of Trump’s business and financial dealings as a private citizen, not as president.

Chief Justice John Roberts asked Trump lawyer Patrick Strawbridge: “Do you concede any power in the House to subpoena personal papers of the president?”

The Trump attorney said it was “difficult to imagine” a situation in which that would be justified.

However, in 1974 the justices acted unanimously in requiring Nixon to turn over White House tapes to the Watergate special prosecutor. And in 1997, another unanimous decision allowed a sexual harassment lawsuit to proceed against Clinton.

What makes Trump different than Nixon or Clinton?  What is it that makes Attorney General Barr proclaim him to be ‘above the law’ in all things?  Trump is only a flawed human, just as were Nixon and Clinton.  He has already been proven to be more corrupt than even Nixon.  Per the U.S. Constitution, Congress is tasked with the oversight of the Executive Branch of government.  So why … why should he be given carte blanche to hide his possible misdeeds, to keep his dirty secrets from the people of this nation?  If he had nothing to hide, he wouldn’t be hiding behind Bill Barr’s very wide coat, now would he?

I hope that Chief Justice Roberts finds that he still has a conscience when it comes time for a vote on this case.  There is far more at stake here than whether Trump is allowed to keep his dirty little secrets, for this case will set a precedent for all future presidents.  A ruling is expected within a matter of weeks.


Not so fast, Billy Barr …

Remember last week when the Department of Justice under William Barr announced that it would be dropping the charges against Michael Flynn?  Most non-trumpies were incensed, as was I.

Bill Barr auditioned for the role of Attorney General by writing a lengthy memo arguing in favor of a fringe legal theory that a President could not obstruct justice, no matter what he did. From the very beginning, Barr has made it clear that he would be Trump’s man in the Department of Justice, and that his loyalty would always be to the President — not the rule of law, not the people of this nation.

But this time Barr may have to answer to a higher authority … the federal courts.  Judge Emmet Sullivan has put the Justice Department’s decision on hold – opening the door for legal experts and other outside parties to oppose the administration’s motion to exonerate Flynn of lying to the FBI.

Critics, including Barack Obama and hundreds of former FBI and justice department officials, have questioned whether William Barr was orchestrating favors for Trump. Flynn, guilty of far greater crimes, pleaded guilty to the single charge of lying to the FBI as part of a plea deal arranged in exchange for testimony to Robert Mueller in his investigation into Russia’s interference on behalf of Trump in 2016.  Conspiracy theorists will tell you that Flynn did nothing wrong, that he was set up, but the hard evidence says differently and in fact, had he not agreed to the plea deal, he would have been charged with far more crimes, possibly up to and including treason.

It is interesting to note that within the Justice Department, only Barr argued in favour of dropping the charges against Flynn.  None of the line prosecutors supervising the case signed the motion and one withdrew from the case.  That, to me, speaks volumes.

When Flynn was forced from the White House, Vice-President Mike Pence said he was disappointed the national security adviser had misled him about his talks with the Russian ambassador. Donald Trump called the deception unacceptable.

Now Pence says he would welcome Flynn back to the administration, calling him a “patriot”, as Trump pronounces him exonerated.  Ask yourself … ‘Why?’  There’s a reason, and I suspect it pertains to the role Flynn could play as a liaison between Trump and Russia in the upcoming election.  Just an educated guess on my part, of course.

I cannot begin to guess at this point how this will end, but it’s good to know the judge isn’t taking his responsibility to truth and justice lightly.  This one will keep me on the edge of my seat!

Angst-Driven Snarky Snippets

One can hardly live in this nation today without feeling a need to vent a certain amount of snark on a near-daily basis.  My ‘Snarky Snippets’ feature started out as a one-off, just a few things that were driving my angst back in January 2018.  Then, it became almost an every week thing, and now, it’s multiple times a week.  In truth, it could be a daily feature, but I do try to find other things to write about as well.  At the current level of incompetence in our federal and state governments, though, I won’t be surprised if the snark boils over soon.  I warn you, my snark is deep and cutting today.


Uncle Mitchie strikes again …

Sen Mitch McConnell (R-KY) There are worse pictures of him.Mitch McConnell is back in the news (when you can find some actual news, that is).  He has been personally reaching out to judges to sound them out on their plans and encourage them to give up their seats on the various courts in the nation.  Why, you ask?  Because, he wants Trump to appoint, and the Senate to confirm, as many conservative judges as possible in the next 10 months.  The judges being contacted by Mitch and other republican senators are conservative judges … those nominated under Presidents Reagan, Bush, Sr., and Bush, Jr. … who will likely reach retirement age within the coming decade.

What this tells me is that McConnell & Co are fairly certain Trump will be ousted in the November elections, and retiring judges will be replaced by more moderate, fair judges.  Is his interference legal?  Well, in our government today, anything that the republicans do is legal, but is it moral and ethical?  No, it is not.  It is yet another example of the far right’s determination to turn the federal government, including the courts, into an anti-democratic regime.

Somebody ought to make Mr. McConnell sit down and read the U.S. Constitution, read how the Judicial branch of our government is to be independent and non-partisan.  Better yet, vote him out of office on November 3rd … please, Kentuckians, do this for your own sakes, and the sake of whatever is left of this nation by then.

McConnell


Speaking of the Court …

The Supreme Court has decided to put their docket on hold for the foreseeable future, due to … what else … coronavirus.  Apparently, life is to be put on hold “indefinitely”.

Isn’t it convenient, though, that three of the cases that were on the docket being delayed pertained to granting the U.S. Congress access to Donald Trump’s financial records?  The cases, involving Trump’s objections to demands from House committees and a New York grand jury, were scheduled to be heard on March 31.  Now postponed indefinitely.

The court said it plans to remain open for official business and is maintaining filing deadlines in all cases.  Am I alone in my confusion here?  They’re open for business, but won’t be hearing cases?  At the risk of sounding like a moron, will the Justices continue accepting their pay?  The pay that those of us who work for a living provide to them?  It’s rather like an average employee saying to their boss, “I’ll come here every day, but I won’t do my job.”  How long do you think that employee will have said job?


Do the math …

The Federal Reserve has now reduced interest rates … to zero.  This is what Trump has been whining for them to do for months now, and in light of the stock market plunges, Chairman Jerome Powell caved.  The ploy was intended to re-ignite consumer confidence and keep the market from tanking any further.  It didn’t work.  It couldn’t have worked, and I’m disappointed that the people who are supposed to be so smart, far smarter than you or I in matters of the economy, thought for a single minute that it would work.  And even if it had worked, even if the market had re-bounded, it was a stupid, stupid move.

Think, if you will, for just a minute about this.  The United States national debt is more than $23 trillion.  Trump, in all his ignorance, cut the U.S. revenue significantly in 2017 when he demanded, and Congress caved, a tax cut for the wealthy, ensuring that some of the nation’s most profitable businesses pay zero in income taxes.  WHERE the Sam Hell does our government think we’re going to get the money to do such things as pay the military, pay our elected officials, or anything else???  Think about your household budget … if you quit your job, and you have no savings, you cannot pay your bills.  You will lose your home, and be living on the streets, begging for food.

We should all demand that the salaries of every federal official in a decision-making role, such as judges, members of Congress, cabinet members, and most definitely the president, should cease, effective immediately, and until further notice.  We cannot afford to pay these people who are making the most disastrous decisions for our future (or lack thereof).

This would be a good time for some of those millionaires and billionaires to say, “Hey, you know what?  The government is bankrupt, but I’ve got plenty of money.  Let me just use my vast riches to help the poor people who have been laid off, to help people who are struggling to buy food, pay their rent, etc.”  Yeah, right … don’t hold your breath for that to happen.  Somehow, the wealthy will find a way to profit from this, while the rest of us will never recover from the financial impact.

Oh, and by the way … this just in … the U.S. airlines are asking the federal government for $50 billion to compensate them for lost revenue during this crisis.  How much do you want to bet they’ll get every bit of it?  GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR.


And, to end this post with some small bit of levity …

tp

Teetering On The Brink?

I am not a psychologist and have no medical education or knowledge.  However, I know full-blown insanity when I see it.  I know that my daughter would call for an ambulance and police if I ever went on a tirade such as Donald Trump went on yesterday.  I know that the behaviour he exhibited yesterday is dangerous enough for anybody, but when the person who has lost all sense of reality is the leader of a nation with nuclear capability, it is a potentially lethal combination.

In September 2016, Trump, speaking of his opponent Hillary Clinton said …

“I also have a much better temperament than she has. … I think my strongest asset, maybe by far, is my temperament. I have a winning temperament. I know how to win.”

And in January 2018 he tweeted …

“Actually, throughout my life, my two greatest assets have been mental stability and being, like, really smart. Crooked Hillary Clinton also played these cards very hard and, as everyone knows, went down in flames. I went from VERY successful businessman, to top T.V. Star to President of the United States (on my first try). I think that would qualify as not smart, but genius….and a very stable genius at that!”

That “much better” temperament was nowhere in evidence yesterday.  What the world saw yesterday was an unhinged 72-year-old male acting like a two-year-old whose nap was an hour past due.

He stormed into a meeting that was scheduled to discuss infrastructure 15 minutes late, refused to shake hands or be seated, and proceeded to rant for three full minutes before storming back out of the room saying he would not work with democrats as long as they continue to investigate him.  Then, he immediately gave an impromptu 12-minute press conference in the Rose Garden where he claimed that everybody was out to get him, that Jerry Nadler had long been his enemy, and that the Mueller investigation had been a hoax from day one, a ‘failed takedown attempt’.  He bounced from topic to topic with no thread, no cohesion, seemingly no purpose other than to say, “Poor me … nobody likes me”.

Folks, I debated about writing this piece, for my initial thought was that there are far more important things to focus on that the temper tantrum of a spoiled brat.  However, the more I heard, the more I read, the more I pondered, I came to realize just how dangerous our situation has become, and this fit he had yesterday is the symptom of a much more serious problem.

The simple statement that supposedly set him off was spoken by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi …

“We believe that the president of the United States is engaged in a coverup.”

Donald Trump has been digging his own grave on this for months now, he has been acting as guilty as a fox with chicken feathers on his mouth, and it is his own attempts at obfuscation that have led us all to believe he is hiding things.  For the record, I, too, believe that Donald Trump is engaged in a coverup, perhaps one of massive proportions.

I have long said that when Trump feels backed into a corner or threatened, he lashes out without thinking, and I believe that is what is happening.  Just this week, two separate judges have ruled against Trump’s attempts to hide financial records from the investigating congressional committees, and an IRS memo came to light stating in no uncertain terms that the Department of Treasury must turn over the Trump tax returns requested by Congress.  I imagine he feels the walls closing in, but his response, his behaviour, make him look even guiltier than he did to start with, if that’s even possible.

Under other circumstances, it would be prudent for the vice president and majority of the cabinet to declare the president “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office” under the 25th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, for it appears, even to the casual observer, that he is indeed ‘unable’.  However, today we do not have a vice president nor cabinet members who are particularly concerned with the well-being of the nation, but rather have their own agendas and Trump plays well into their hands.

Meanwhile, two democratic senators, Chris Murphy of Connecticut and Tom Udall of New Mexico pushed for a vote by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on a proposal that would require congressional approval before US could launch a strike on Iran, but the proposal was shot down in a 13-9 vote.  One republican senator, Rand Paul of Kentucky, voted with democrats in favour of the proposal.  Obviously, there are concerns about Trump overstepping his bounds in dealing with Iran.

I don’t know what the solution is … I wish I did.  But I do know that the ‘man’ in the Oval Office is showing signs of a loss of mental acuity and we should all be concerned.  It seems to me that there are two options here: Invoke the articles of impeachment, for which there is ample justification, though as things currently stand, the likelihood of him being removed from office is slim-to-none.  Or, wait and let him finish digging his own grave.  Ordinarily, I would suggest the latter, for he is doing a fine job of it thus far.  But, under the circumstances, given his antagonism toward Iran, given his erratic decision-making processes, I fear that disaster might strike before he digs that last shovelful.

I think Nancy Pelosi showed just how concerned she is when, after his tirade, she said …

“I pray for the president of the United States. And I pray for the United States of America.”